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Muscogee Creek Nation transforms its healthcare referral process

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The Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma, through 56 government departments and agencies, administers to the needs of a population in excess of 77,000 scattered across 11 counties. One of the principal challenges is to provide timely and efficient healthcare services.

Its Contract Health Services (CHS) division contracts with Indian Health Services to maintain the Creek Nation Community Hospital and several community clinics, a vocational rehabilitation program, nutrition programs for children and the elderly, and programs dedicated to diabetes, tobacco prevention and caregivers.

As a sovereign entity, the nation must not only comply with the reporting requirements of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) but also with the tribal requirements established by the Indian Health Service. As recently as 2012, a patient applying to CHS who needed to be referred to a specialist was subject to a 99-step, paper-based process that involved doctors, pharmacists, case managers, scheduling coordinators and financial staff. With about 400 referrals requested per week, the process was daunting.

To meet that challenge, CHS initiated a transition to a paperless, online digital content management system. To set it up, the nation’s hospital informatics staff worked with ImageNet Consulting, a reseller for Laserfiche, an enterprise content management provider.

Elexis Hennigh, hospital informatics manager, says, “This allowed us to transfer payment information online to our accounting department automatically. Laserfiche provided all the information needed to pay our patients’ bills and provided the scanning and documentation process we required.”

The solution also interfaced and integrated with the nation’s internal proprietary system. “CHS also required a reporting functionality for our internal system, which was currently manual and a time-consuming task when reports were needed,” Hennigh says. “We discovered that the new system could provide that reporting for us just like it currently provided for our payment process.”

Hennigh adds, “We receive referrals and can do our processes online and route to the medical review committee for review by our CMO. Now we view everything online including backup documentation, doctor orders and prescriptions for patient needs.”

Return on investment will be significant for CHS, according to Laserfiche, with projected savings estimated at $41,000 annually and $205,000 over the next five years.

(Image courtesy of ShutterStock.com)

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